'Storm at Mazatlan [Mexico], Octr 28th 1851'

No. 62 in Fanshawe's Pacific album, 1849 - 52. Captioned by the artist on the album page below the image, as title. This drawing is reproduced in Fanshawe's 1904 biography, f. p. 292 as 'H.M.S. "Daphne" dismasted in a hurricane, Mazatlan, 1851'. On 9 October 'Daphne' left San Francisco, to spend about three months collecting further silver freight from Mexico for direct conveyance to England. She anchored off Mazatlan on 27th and what followed is most concisely described in Fanshawe's letter to his father of 6 November. On 28 October 'Mazatlan was visited with the heaviest storm that has occurred here for thirteen years. It began at half-past 4 A.M. and a little after 5 our bowsprit, being defective, broke, and was immediately followed by the three masts, which fell fore and aft on the starboard side, and though the whole ship's company were on deck, only three were seriously hurt, one since dead. The gale had reached its height about 6, by which time it had veered form N.E. to N.W and was throwing in a very heavy cross sea. About 8 it had moderated considerably, and we were left with the wreck of our masts, and of much else that had been gradually and carefully fitted during the last three years. The town is also a wreck ...twenty-one people were killed by the fall of buildings. The small craft in the inner harbour were mostly sunk or destroyed: the masts of a fine schooner have furnished me with with a new mizenmast and foreyard....' (p.292). They had a lucky escape, since they were about to slip their anchor to make an offing when the masts came down, fatally injuring one of Fanshawe's best men and burying him under wreckage for some time before he could be extricated. Fortunately the anchors held fast. By the 31st they had the fore- and mainmast up again, though reduced in height, and moved into the inner harbour where they remained refitting until early December. They then briefly went to collect water ('a scarce article here') near Cape St Lucas and subsequently silver freight from San Blas, Guaymas (where they stayed three weeks), and briefly returned to Mazatlan. The ship finally left there after 5 February 1852 and reached Panama for the last time by 20 March. This drawing shows all three masts broken off about six feet (2 m) above the deck, with the main over the starboard gunwale, the mizzen adrift in the sea, and the fore and main lower yards athwartship. The instantaneous collapse Fanshawe described was inevitable once the bowsprit snapped, removing the support of the forward stays, and was the type of accident to be expected from wear and tear at the end of a long commission far from dockyard support. Fanshawe had little expectation of finding better spars when he called briefly at Valparaiso for the last time, heading home, and in fact completed his return voyage to England with the temporary rig fitted at Mazatlan, as shown in PAI4670. The dramatic wind and wave effects in this watercolour, clearly done after the event, are largely achieved by scratching out. Fanshawe also did three views at Mazatlan in 1850 (PAI4648 - PAI4650).

Object Details

ID: PAI4669
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Fanshawe, Edward Gennys
Date made: 28 Oct 1851
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 126 x 179 mm
Parts: Album of watercolours of Madeira, Brazil, the Falkland and Pacific Islands, Chile, Panama, Mexico, Vancouver, and California (Album)

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